Recently, a twenty-member delegation from Côte d’Ivoire went on a tour past various key institutions in the cocoa sector, as part of the Maximising Opportunities in Cocoa Activities (MOCA) pilot.
The delegation was made up of staff members from the Ivorian National Centre for Agricultural Research (CNRA), the Agence Nationale d’Appui au Développement Rural (ANADER) and the Conseil Café Cacao (CCC). They visited the offices of the Cocoa Abrabopa Association (CAA) in Kumasi and the Cocoa Research Institute of Ghana (CRIG) in Tafo.
The tour, sponsored by the United States Department of Agriculture, was meant to familiarise the participants with the operations of the CAA and CRIG. Another goal was for them to share experiences in the niche market of premium flavour cocoa beans.
Centre of attention
The delegation learned first-hand how CAA members assure quality during the cocoa production process and witnessed the CRIG’s technical experience in defining the cocoa flavour-based curriculum.
Because of Ghana’s expertise in quality flavour beans, the Ghana Cocoa Board (COCOBOD) and CRIG are now at the centre of attention, with cocoa-producing countries from all around the world seeking to learn from them.
With support from the World Cocoa Foundation and the African Cocoa Initiative, both the CAA and CRIG have developed great technical expertise and training skills in sustaining the flavour-based curriculum and experiential tasting. Both are crucial to understanding the impact of harvest and post-harvest practices on flavour development.
In a very significant development, the CAA has been named a shining example of good practices, receiving the Cocoa of Excellence International Cocoa Award at the 2017 edition of the Salon du Chocolat, along with eighteen other cocoa producers.
One year on, the CAA, represented by Mr. Simon Marfo, was honoured again by the Ghana Cocoa Board for its professionalism and efforts. The secret behind this success is the collaboration between the World Cocoa Foundation (WCF) and CRIG in organising sensory analysis training sessions for producers, using cocoa samples from their own harvests.
An educational tour
During the visit to the CAA offices, participants had the opportunity to learn about the model and practices. They were also told about the internal control processes and procedures established and applied by the association, which have allowed for the consistent production of quality cocoa over the years.
The team learned about the challenges and opportunities that come with the production of quality cocoa, as well as visiting several farms belonging to CAA members.
At CRIG, the delegation was taught about the improved quality control techniques at the Flavour Quality laboratory, before observing Good Agricultural Practices (GAP) associated with flavour quality in the field. Finally, they had a tasting session with detailed explanations based on the results of sensory analysis.
The Executive Secretary of the CAA, Mr Eliseus Opoku-Boamah, greatly appreciated the visit. He said: “I am delighted with this visit, as it encourages all employees and members of the cooperative to understand that the efforts they are making are recognised at a certain level, and therefore allows them to be more galvanised in the fulfilment of their tasks.”
He said his team would like to emulate this experience in Cote d’Ivoire and learn from Ivorian producers, as cocoa farmers face the same realities everywhere.
Mr Nestor Yao, Chairman of the Board of Directors at Capressa, a cooperative from Abengourou in western Cote d’Ivoire, said: “In Cote d’Ivoire, our sections have a minimum of fifty producers with relatively large areas. This makes it difficult for the only delegate committed to control the quality of cocoa to provide a good assessment. This aspect, in my opinion, will be very useful for us, and we will internally discuss ways to implement it.”
Finally, Mr Camara Sauveur, Programme Director at the MOCA, said: “The visit offered the Ivorian cooperatives and MOCA team members an opportunity to better understand not only the opportunities that improve flavour quality, but also the associated challenges.”